Fundamental Research Division
The DRF at the CEA assemble approximately 6,000 scientists since January 2016.
Methodologies for life sciences | Structural biology | Large-scale biology
In medical imaging, developments focus on the quality of acquisitions (temporal and spatial resolution, sensitivity) and their interpretation. This is a question of improving technologies (e.g. the development of an antenna for high-field MRI, or software exploitation data), biochemical approaches (e.g. biomolecular labeling, or development of contrast agents) or developing new protocols. The DSV coordinates the national infrastructure in biology and health France Life Imaging (FLI), which organizes and standardizes French technological research in preclinical and clinical imaging.
Possible approaches to understand the functioning of a cell include the study of genes (and their transcription), proteins, and metabolites. These investigations generate a large amount of data (or “big data”) whose analysis requires skills and significant bioinformatic resources. To achieve this, the DSV has at its disposal a network of bioinformaticians with expertise in large-scale analyses and systems biology, making the DSV a major user of the TGCC/GENCI supercomputing center. Molecular modeling also has a prominent role, with an internationally visible expertise. The DSV is involved in structuring the French research landscape in these areas through its role in the national infrastructure of proteomics (Profi), genomics (France Génomique), and metabolomics and fluxomics (MétaboHUB).
Biochemical reactions in a cell operate in three dimensions. The goal of integrated structural biology is to understand these reactions at the molecular level in a cellular and dynamic context. To integrate the finest possible structural data into their models, researchers at the DSV are developing new methodologies in NMR, mass spectrometry, microscopy, crystallography, and small angle scattering.Teams from the Institute of Structural Biology (IBS) that are part of the infrastructure include FRISBI (on a national level) and INSTRUCT (on the European level).
For the first time, a team from Biam is showing the transcription of DNA into messenger RNA in the cells of young plants, in real time and with an unprecedented resolution. This exceptional live work reveals highly useful information on the biological mechanisms linked to the plant’s response to its environment.
A team from the NeuroSpin (CEA-Joliot), in collaboration with Inserm (Tours), has published the first anatomical atlas of the human brain stem using mesoscopic resolution ultra-high field MRI. This atlas, freely accessible as a wiki, will be used in particular by neuroanatomists and neurosurgeons to help them in their procedures.
Drawing upon the 3D reconstruction of the cellular architecture of several phytoplankton families, researchers at the CEA-Irig have demonstrated that the physiological responses of these eukaryotes are associated with certain characteristics of their energy-producing organelles. This work thus provides new perspectives for the production of algal biomass, upstream of biotechnology applications.
Using the UK Biobank cohort, researchers at the Joliot-NeuroSpin and the Jacob-CNRGH explored genome-wide associations between groups of linked genes (haplotypes) and the opening of brain sulci, an indicator of brain aging.
Researchers at the Irig have developed an application to help biologists prepare their large-scale experiments using randomly distributed well plates, without requiring any programming skills.
CEA is a French government-funded technological research organisation in four main areas: low-carbon energies, defense and security, information technologies and health technologies. A prominent player in the European Research Area, it is involved in setting up collaborative projects with many partners around the world.